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Research Topics

Actors and patterns of cooperation and conflict
Russia, Norway and the High North - Past, Present, Future
The United States in the 21 Century Arctic
Defining an Interest: The European Union and the High North
The Power of Energy
Law of the Sea and Ocean Governance
Climate Change and Environmental Protection

Russia, Norway and the High North - past, present, future

"Russia, Norway and the High North - Past, Present, Future" is one of eight research topics in the Geopolitics in the High North programme. The Work Package will explore Russian interests in the High North and relations with Norway with particular attention to identifying trends of continuity as well as new traits.

In the  European High North, Russia is by far the largest state and a crucial player. In recent years Russia has beomce more stable and has experienced fast economic growth due to high energy prices. Russia appears with renewed self-assertiveness on the international stage. Relations between Russia and Western powers – particularly the United States and Britain – have become more strained. At the same time, Norway has so far managed to keep a good and fruitful relationship with its eastern neighbour. For Norwegian decision-makers, understanding the rationale of Russian past, present and future policies is of crucial importance. 
Russia is changing rapidly as a result of complex interaction of economic, political, socio-cultural and technological forces, both from within and out-side the coutry. The only certainty is that relations between Norway and Russia in the High North will to a large degree depend on how Russia develops internally. To shed some more light on future perspectives, a driving force analysis will be conducted and implications for Russo-Norwegian relations will be drawn.

The "Russia, Norway and the High North - past, present, future" work package will include the following major projects:
  • A  broad  synthesising monograph on Ru ssian-No rwegian relations, 1917–2014, with particular focus on High North ques tions within a geopolitical context. The project will look at issues like the evolution of Russian High North policies, including jurisdictional issues in the Barents Sea; Russian discourse on the c ountry’s in tere sts vis-à-vis Norwa y; Russian perceptions of Norwegian foreign and security policies in general and High North policies in particular; the role  of various Russian actors, including the evolution of the role of non-state actors.
  • A comprehensive survey will be conducted of contempo  rary Russian Hig  h North policies in a geopolitical perspective, with focus on the   interaction betw een the utilisation of natural resources and the evolution of Russian military and security structures in the area. This part of the project will result in a post-doctoral project, and a number of articles in listed journals.

A central interest for Norway has been to handle relations with Russia successfully - keeping a good relationship, while at the same time avoding potential pitfalls. During the later years, Norway has also tried energetically to engage Russia in a positive sense in as many arenas as possible. Apart from the general aim of building a robust relationship, this engagement policy also has a quite substantial economic dimension – there is a great potential for Norwegian companies on the expanding Russian markets.


Researchers on Russia, Norway and the High North - Past, Present, Future:

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Maritime delimitation treaty
27 April 2010, President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced that an the near forty years of negotiations had reached a breakthrough and that an agreement would be signed. 

“I believe this will open the way for many joint projects, especially in the area of energy,” President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia said at a news conference. “This is a historic day. We have reached a breakthrough in the most important outstanding issue between Norway and the Russian Federation,” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. The agreement is subject to ratification by the legislature of each country. 

To read the joint statement - see link to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
See also - Russia and Norway reach accord on Barents sea, The New York Times

15 September 2010, the treaty was signed in Murmansk. 




Russia’s National Security Strategy to 2020, by Katarzyna Zysk, senior fellow at the IFS (15 June 2009)

On 12 May 2009 President Medvedev approved the Russian National Security Strategy for the period until 2020. The document replaced the security concept from 1997 (modified in 2000), thus reflecting Russia’s evolved security environment. Contrary to what was widely expected, the new security concept has a stronger conciliatory character.

The broad and detailed document depicts a complex and integrated picture of Russia’s security situation. It describes current world trends and defines Russia’s national interests and strategic priorities. Unlike the previous documents, it goes far beyond the classical definition of national security with a predominantly military approach. The new strategy identifies threats and challenges within a broadly defined concept of security under chapters defined as ‘National defence’, ‘State security and civil protection’, ‘Improvement of living standards’, ‘Economic growth’, ‘Research, technologies and education’, ‘Healthcare’, ‘Culture’, ‘Ecology’, and ‘Strategic stability and partnership on equal terms’. Much less attention is devoted to hard security threats. National defence tasks are described relatively vaguely. The document avoids as well any broader discussion of Russia’s nuclear policy, confirming only its further reliance on nuclear deterrence and nuclear parity with the United States.

The new strategy points at failure of the current global and regional security architecture, as it is disproportionately weighted in favour of NATO. It voices Russia’s long-standing opposition to any future eastward enlargement of the Alliance and plans to move its military infrastructure to Russian borders, as well as attempts to give the organisation global functions. At the same time, it expresses Russia’s readiness to negotiate and develop relations with NATO on the condition of equality and respect for Russia’s interests. Contrary to expectations based on the anti-Western rhetoric frequently used by the Russian leadership in recent years, the United States is not mentioned in the document as a security concern. It refers though to attempts of a range of leading states to achieve military supremacy as a threat to state’s security.

The economy has a prominent place in the document as a major security factor. The dependence of the Russian economy on export of raw materials has been recognized as a threat, together with foreign involvement in the national economy. The global economic downturn has left a footprint in the document, which states that consequences of such crisis may be comparable with the devastation left by large-scale use of military force. One of Russia’s objectives is to become one of the five biggest economies in the world in terms of GDP. Similarly to other newly updated documents, such as the new Arctic strategy to 2020, particular attention is devoted to infrastructure development aimed at reducing economic differences among Russian regions, in particular in the Arctic and Far East.

The document highlights the role of energy security. It associates Russia’s international position and strength with its energy reserves, and states that a pragmatic policy and political use of its natural resources has strengthened Russia’s influence on the international stage. The strategy asserts that in a long term perspective the attention of international policy will be focused on access to energy reserves, including on the continental shelf in the Barents Sea and other parts of the Arctic, in addition to the Middle East, the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. In the next article the document points that the critical state of physical safety of dangerous materials, in particular in states with unstable domestic political situation, as well as proliferation of conventional weapons, can lead to exacerbation of existing and provoking new regional and international conflicts. The strategy maintains that it cannot be excluded that problems resulting from the competitive struggle for dwindling resources worldwide may be solved with use of military force.

As many other Russian documents and official statements, the new security strategy does not omit to clearly emphasise the country’s commitment to international law in pursuing its foreign policy objectives and protecting national security interests. 

by Katarzyna Zysk, IFS



The document in Russian: Strategia natsionalnoi bezopasnosti Rossiiskoi Federatsii do 2020 goda



Russia: Arctic strategy, September 2008

Comment by Katarzyna Zysk, senior fellow at the IFS:

The Russian government adopted a new Arctic strategy in September 2008. The document, entitled “The fundamentals of state policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic in the period up to 2020 and beyond” (Osnovy gosudarstvennoi politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii v Arktike na period do 2020 goda i dalneishuiu perspektivu, was published on the Russian Security Council’ website in the end of March 2009.

The strategy clearly emphasizes the region’s importance to Russia’s economy as a major source of revenue, mainly from energy production and profitable maritime transport. A main goal is to transform the Arctic into Russia’s top strategic base for natural resources by 2020, and preserve the country’s role as a leading Arctic power.

The Russian authorities consider the region as crucially important for Russia’s further wealth, social and economic development and competitiveness on global markets. Defining the limits of the country’s continental shelf by 2015 is listed as a top priority. Among other strategic goals the document points at developing the transport and communication infrastructure in the region, particularly connected to the Northern Sea Route as a national, wholly integrated transportation route and a central element in maritime connections between Europe and Asia. The strategy reveals that one of Russia major goal is to establish special Arctic military formations in order to protect the county’s national interests in various military and political situations.

The Russian authorities underscore, however, that the main purpose of such military preparations is to combat terrorism at sea, smuggling and illegal migration, and protect aquatic biological resources. Hence, the FSB (Federal Security Service) will get a central role in protecting national interests in the region. The Russian authorities clearly underscored the document’s cooperative character by emphasizing the need to preserve the Arctic as a zone of peace and cooperation, and underlining the role of regional bilateral and multilateral cooperation. 

The document in Russian: Russia: Arctic strategy, September 2008

Premliminary findings of the Russia, Norway and the High North work package (January 2011, by work package leader Sven Holtsmark, IFS) 


  • How can your research contribute to an assessment of the geopolitical significance of the region in the 21st century, to a precise description of the geopolitical constellation in the region, and to an understanding of the dynamics of change in the geopolitical situation of the region?

    Research in WP 2 has a continuous focus on military-strategic developments in the High North, with particular emphasis on the Russian Northern Fleet and its role in Russian strategic thinking and posture. Research includes assessments of long-term developments, including the prospects for the implementation of plans for the development of Russian blue-water capabilities. The outcome of these processes will be one key factor in the evolution of the geopolitical situation of the region.
  • What assumptions have you made about global developments and their impact in the region in the relevant time horizon?

    Global developments are outside the main focus of WP 2 research. However, developments in the Russian High North is seen within the framework of Russia’s overall foreign and military policy priorities.
  • Who are the most important actors, and what are their agendas and interests in the region that are relevant to the scope of your work? Which historical experiences and other factors drive their interests, and which interests drive their policies?

    WP 2 focuses on two state actors, Norway and Russia, their policies and interaction in the High North. Thus, the WP does not aim at establishing a hierarchy of other actors, but includes research on Russia’s and Norway’s relations with other actors present in the region. The issues of historical experiences and drivers, and the link to interests and policies, will be explored broadly in the monograph.
  • How will your research illuminate existing and potential areas of conflict and cooperation in the region?

    WP 2 publications address directly the prospects for conflict versus cooperation in the High North and the Arctic. Recent programme publications have reinforced the findings from 2009 output that the actors’ common interest, for several pragmatic reasons, in maintaining regional stability provides a strong counterbalance to potential sources of conflict. All state actors demonstrate strong support for the legal and institutional framework of High North and Arctic governance. Detailed analyses of the evolution of relevant Russian policy documents unequivocally points in the same direction.
  • How can existing or alternative models of governance, including existing institutions and frameworks of international law or regulations, contribute to coping with the challenges in the region?

    WP 2 research confirms that Russia, despite at times heavy-handed rhetoric, emphasises the role of UNCLOS as the overarching legal framework for Arctic governance and resources distribution and management. The recent Norwegian-Russian agreement on delimitation in the Barents Sea illustrates the point. WP 2 research at the same time documents the potential and continued need for bilateral solutions to supplement multilateral arrangements. Norway and Russia, which are at the focus of WP 2, agree that the existing institutional and legal framework is sufficiently flexible to serve as the basis for further institutional and legal arrangements.
  • How will your research highlight elements of continuity and change?

    WP research emphasises a high degree of continuity in Russian strategic culture and in Russia’s basic understanding of the role of the High North and Arctic in Russia’s strategic posture, inter alia as a key area for the deployment of the country’s nuclear arsenal. Thus, Russia continues to object to the involvement in Arctic issues of NATO or other Western security structures. On the Norwegian side, the heavy official emphasis on High North policy as a major strategic element in the countries foreign and domestic policies cannot avoid including a military component. However, the elements of change are not less striking. Military land and naval forces present in the High North and the Arctic are dramatically reduced compared to the late Cold War period. Russia has published plans for a significant military build-up in the High North and the Arctic, but it remains to be seen when, and to what degree, these plans will be realised. Some of the four Arctic NATO-member states have published modest plans for modernisation or strengthening of their military presence in the Arctic, but still within a very limited framework.
  • What implications do your research findings have for Norway, for Norwegian interests and for future Norwegian policy options in the region?

    Understanding Russian policy behaviour, and the dynamics of Norwegian-Russian interaction, remains a key factor for the elaboration of Norwegian policy, in the High North as elsewhere. Thus, research-based interpretations of the long-term tendencies of Russian High North policies, including elements of continuity of change, directly impact on Norwegian foreign and security policy priorities. WP interpretations of Russian High North policy confirms the existence of a wide range of areas for developing Norwegian-Russian cooperation. They also point to the continued need for Norway to explore bilateral solutions with Russia when appropriate and possible, at the same time securing the presence and commitment of additional state actors.
  • How does your research relate to the other research areas in the programme?

    WP 2 research, with its emphasis on Russian strategic thinking on the High North and the Arctic, has direct bearing on other work packages, in particular WP ?? (energy) and WP ?? (legal etc). For instance, WP 2 research has documented the increasing role of issues of natural resources in the rationale for the further development of the Russian Northern Fleet. Similarly, research in other WPs document additional elements of interdependence between actors in the High North and the Arctic, thus reinforcing the underlying argument in WP 2 research of the strength of forces of cooperation versus those of conflict.


Expert comment: On August 27, 2009, the government of the Russian Federation approved the Energy Strategy for the period up to 2030 (the Strategy). 

The tempo of post-crisis economic recovery has been set as the point of departure for the Strategy’s two scenarios. The first scenario envisages a quickly recovering national economy with the consequences of the downturn tackled before 2015; the second scenario envisions a slower pace of overcoming the upshots of the crisis, with full recovery expected by 2020/2022.   


By Elena Shadrina, visiting researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (15 October 2009).

The Strategy outlines three phases for the process of the national fuel energy complex (FEC) transformation. In order to make the FEC an additional engine for the domestic economy post-crisis recovery, the document sees its substantial overhaul during the first stage (2013-2015). In the second phase (2016-2020/2022), an array of cutting-edge, highly efficient innovations and technologies are to be introduced; greenfields are to become operational and significantly expand the sector’s production and export capacity. In the period of 2021/2023-2030, considerably improved energy efficiency coupled with enhanced use of non-fuel energy sources (nuclear, solar, wind, etc.) are expected to boost Russia’s robust economic dynamism. 

The Strategy sets up an array of aims across four major dimensions: energy security; energy efficiency of domestic economy; economic efficiency of FEC; and ecological security of FEC.

With regard to the Arctic region, the relevant issues are addressed in the Strategy’s Chapters 4, 5, and 6. Speaking of the policy tools, the Chapter 4 “State’s Energy Policy”, for one, puts forward larger allocations for geological exploration, introduction of flexible taxation and more favourable investment regime for resources development, enhancement of innovations and technologies, governmental support for development of the regional energy infrastructure, improvement in the system of professional education, etc. Nevertheless, the Section 4.8 entitled “External energy policy” has no special clauses on the Arctic policy. 

Major developments in the Arctic are envisioned during the second stage of the Strategy implementation. Such timeframe corresponds with that set by the “Principles of State Policy in the Arctic up to 2020 and beyond” (the Principles) adopted on September 18, 2008. Nonetheless, while the Principles specifically underscores that “Resources of the Arctic zone are to be used as the Russian Federation’s strategic resource base enabling the country’s social economic development” (clause 4.a Chapter II “National Interests of the Russian Federation in Arctic”), the Strategy does not have the same explicit focus on the Arctic resources’ strategic importance (refer to Chapter 5 “Perspectives and Strategic Initiatives for the Fuel Energy Complex Development”). 

In terms of priorities, there is a certain degree of the content inconsistency between these two documents. For instance, the Strategy saliently prioritises geographical diversification of production and export of energy resources with more active role played by Russia’s eastern regions, in particular by Eastern Siberia and the Far East. Consequently, an increase in the eastern dimension is to be compensated by a corresponding decline in the share of the western part of the country. Indeed, by 2030, Europe-centred (i.e. beyond the CIS) gas exports will sag from a current approximately 70 percent to a mere 20 percent. 

Reflecting the shifts in production and export, the Strategy lists the top priority energy transport infrastructure projects as follows: the East Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline; Baltic Pipeline System-II; Burgas – Alexandroupolis oil pipeline; Nord Stream; South Stream; and the Caspian gas pipeline. The Strategy seems thus not to reflect adequately the prominence of the Arctic region declared by the Russian government in previous key policy documents. The content of the document was presented in detail by Minister of Energy S. Shmatko on August 27. 

Minister of Energy S. Shmatko's presentation (in Russian)
Ministry of Energy's press release (in Russian)
Draft of the Energy Strategy of the Russian Federation up to 2030 (in Russian)


Conference report: 12-13 April 2011, the Geopolitics in the High North programme arranged its second annual conference on regional cooperation in Murmansk, Russia. A number of researchers and experts met in Murmansk to discuss different dimensions of regional cooperation in the Arctic region.

The two-day conference was the second international conference organized under the research programme Geopolitics in the High North. Questions related to the following issues were discussed: Arctic strategies, energy developments, environmental governance and management of living resources, soft security, the Northwest and Northeast passages, and regional cooperation. The conference was a joint effort by Institute for Universal History of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IUH RAS), Moscow State Institute for International Affairs-University (MGIMO), Murmansk State Humanitarian University (MSHU) and the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (IFS). It gathered participants and representatives from programme partners such as SWP in Berlin, FNI in Oslo, CSIS in Washington and University of Tromsø; as well ass associated institutions, including NUPI, Econ Pöyry and FFI in Norway. 


Arctic strategies

The first session highlighted different Arctic strategies. Lev Voronkov from MGIMO University talked about the main determinants of the Russian Arctic policy and its actors. He argued that reasons for confrontation has disappeared and hoped for increased regional cooperation based on the broad fields of common interest. Resources from the north play an important role to Russia’s continued development and Voronkov claimed that Russia’s military presence is related to national economic interests rather than international security conflicts. He hoped that the recently ratified and signed Russian-Norwegian delimitation line agreement would provide new impulses to the cooperation zone in the Barents Sea area.
Thereafter, Kristine Offerdal from IFS gave a comparative analysis of the different Arctic strategies. Overall, she found many similarities in the existing strategies for the region.  There are few diverging positions and little to indicate friction, she argued. However, she observed a dividing line between the coastal states on the one hand and the non-coastal states on the other hand. Coastal states to a larger extend emphasized sovereignty and security, whereas non-coastal states emphasized their rights as users of the region, such as freedom of navigation. Due to lack of specific sub-goals and the low conflict potential she asked if fear of being left out is a key driver for policy development among the actors.


Energy developments: Prospects and challenges  
Arild Moe, senior researcher from the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, was the first speaker on this session. In his analysis of Russian Arctic offshore he found a discrepancy between ambitions and realities. There have been great expectations, but recently there has been little exploration activity and the companies in charge face a number of challenges, he argued. On the implications of the delimitation line Moe asked if we can see differences in time schedule of exploration on the Norwegian and Russian side.
The second speaker on this panel was Fiodor D. Larichkin, director from the GP Luzin Institute of Economy of the Kola scientific center of the Russian Academy of sciences (RAS). Larichkin touched upon different perspectives of the exploration of High North and Arctic mineral and energy resources and he argued for the need for a strategy on integrated resource management in the region.
Valeriy Kryukov from the Siberian Branch of RAS and State University “Higher School of economics” was the final speaker on the session. He addressed social-economic implications of the Arctic oil and gas resources development. He claimed that the Shtokman field originally was explored to contribute to development in Murmansk and other northern regions of Russia. However, there is need for modernization on specific issues related to socio-economic development, such as institutions, agendas and structure. Kryukov also argued that indigenous peoples should have the right to participate in relevant processes and also to claim compensation on loss from energy companies.


Environmental governance and the management of living resources 
The topic of the third panel was environmental governance and the management of living resources. The first presentation was given by Olav S. Stokke from the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, who argued the need for a strengthened institutional interplay and multilevel governance for the Arctic region. This should include sub-regional as well as extra-regional institutions, and the Arctic Council could support such a dynamic interplay, in Stokke’s view.
The second presentation was given by Prof. Vladimir V. Denisov on behalf of himself, Director Matishov, Prof. Dzheniuk and Research Fellow Mr Ilyin, all from the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute. In the presentation, Denisov pointed to the human impact on marine ecosystems and argued for an eco-system based management approach based on multi-sectoral orientation and functioning zoning of the Barents Sea due to marine spatial planning.
Dr Carsten Schymik from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) was the final participant on the panel. He asked what role the EU plays in Arctic fisheries. Due to EU’s low account of Arctic catches combined with its large market for fish Schymik argued that the EU has limited influence via catch regimes, but that it could have increased influence via its trade regimes.


Soft security in the Arctic  
The fourth session raised question about different aspects of soft security. Mr Kolomichev held the EMERCOM presentation. He gave an informal talk on the organisation of search and rescue in the Barents Sea. He pointed to the importance of good S&R infrastructure and described the system of which the Murmansk S&R coordination center functions.
Professor Alexey V. Marchenko from the Institute for General Physics, RAS, gave a presentation on prospects for ice melting in the Arctic and the implications for maritime activity. He described the changes in summer and winter ice, touched upon implications for S&R stations and also argued for increased ice management close to offshore platforms and improved sea-maps to avoid of ship-ice incidents.
The final speaker of the first day was Associate Professor Paal S. Hilde from IFS. He asked whether the Arctic states are well prepared for the soft security challenges in the region. Based on the special climate and geographical conditions in the Arctic that raises risks to maritime activity he argued the international community’s preparedness on a governance level but not in terms of capabilities. Hilde argued that the Arctic states are doing well on the governance level with established institutional and legal framework – a framework consisting of multiple levels. On capabilities the picture is bleaker as Arctic states need increased suitable capabilities in the Arctic.


Mur_img5The Northwest and Northeast passages 
This session held two presentations on the aspects of utilisation of the two passages. Professor Emeritus Franklyn Griffiths from the University of Toronto gave the first presentation. In his view, the two passages should be governed as thought they were international straits. As transit voyages he analysed similarities and differences between the two passages based on physical data, administrative handling, political handling and legal issues. Griffiths argued that Canada and Russia could look towards a common frame for governing the straits not as national waters but as international straits to settle issues with the US, reduce irritancy and potential for friction and set a model for increased stability and safety in the region.
Mr Babich from Atomflot in Murmansk gave a presentation of the need for the fleet of atomic icebreakers on the Northern Sea Route. To operate in an environment that according to Babich remains and will remain very harsh, Russia will need icebreakers that are powerful and efficient. Babich saw the nuclear icebreakers as key for operation in the entire Northern Sea Route and hence to Russian economic interests.

Mur_img6Regional cooperation in the High North  
The introduction of Mr Konovalov from the Ministry of regional development was given by a member of the Organisational committee/Mr. Voronkov. According to a forthcoming new Russian Arctic development programme Russia will work to create a framework for improving e.g. the local communities and sustainable growth. In this effort cross-border cooperation on e.g search and rescue, emergency response and overall regional cooperation in terms of energy, ecological and economical sustainability is welcome.
The second presentation on this final session was given by Mr Thomas Nilsen from the Barents Observer and the Barents Secretariat. He highlighted the success and the remaining challenges of regional soft security cooperation based on the case of Russian and Norwegian cooperation. In Nilsen’s view the bilateral cooperation has been a success story, based on common interests and cooperation in fields like culture, education, indigenous peoples, business and media. However, there are also some challenges to handle, such as e.g. visa policies and business, in this that could function as a model for regional cooperation in other areas.
In connection with the conference several workshops were arranged, including one for work package leaders.

The conference programme English version and Russian version.

The conference is a joint-effort by

as part of the Geopolitics in the High North international research programme.




Expert comment: The decision to postpone the development of the natural gas field Shtokman may be interpreted as an indication of reduced interest in Arctic hydrocarbons due to changes in the gas market. Were the assessments of the Arctic petroleum potential exaggerated?


By Harald H. Eie, Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies and participant in GeoPolitics in the High North programme. (8 February 2010).


In a meeting Friday 5 February, the partners of Shtokman Development AG decided to push the development of the giant Shtokman natural gas field, situated in the Barents Sea. From a technical point of view, the three year postponement was not surprising. Previous plans envisaging the field to be operational in 2013-2014 have been deemed unrealistic by most commentators. One of the official reasons, however, was changes in the gas market. These changes could have far-reaching consequences for the prospects of Arctic petroleum developments.


The US Geological Survey has estimated the Arctic as very promising,  harbouring approximately 22 per cent of the world’s undiscovered petroleum resources of which the lion's share is natural gas located off shore. Although the survey contains a lot of uncertainties, it has spurred much attention to the Arctic.


However, in the US, new production techniques have facilitated the production of shale gas, a source previously considered technically inaccessible and economically unviable to extract from. US shale gas reserves are enormous, potentially allowing the country to be self-supplied with natural gas for decades to come. Furthermore, there are shale gas reserves in Europe as well, which could help compensate for the declining European production of conventional natural gas.


This does not bode well for Shtokman’s future, given that about half of the field’s gas has been planned to supply the US market. In the long term, Russia needs to renew its production base, and is currently doing so in part by developing the Yamal Peninsula. But European and Russian demand has shrunk due to the economic downturn, thereby making the need for new field developments less urgent. In sum, there seems to be no persuasive economic grounds for Shtokman in the shorter term.


The development of shale gas production could also have an impact on the overall prospects of Arctic natural gas production in the longer term. Overall, the Shtokman has been regarded as one of the more feasible off shore projects in the region. Given the harsh climate conditions, distance from markets and lack of existing transport infrastructure, natural gas production in the Arctic is expensive and technologically challenging. In order to be economically viable, Shtokman depends on a high and stable gas price.


The current price level and ongoing development of shale gas production could render the Arctic less appealing. Perhaps our understanding of the Arctic's future energy potential needs to be reassessed.


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